Wednesday, November 03, 2010
How this ever popular sweet got its name has been a mystery for me always and to this day I have no clue about the origins of the name. Mysorepak has been a very popular sweet for the Kalyana cheeru (sweets given during marriage) for more than 6 or 7 decades among Kerala Iyers. When my chithappas were married, each mysorepak that came with cheeru was almost 4"x2"x2" in size. So huge; of course the laddus and appams were also the size of coconuts then. Appam dough was not poured into the mould using a ladle but using big glasses.
The original mysorepaks have this brownish color in the centre and a cream color at either end and they are porous and crisp and melt in the mouth. These days, the soft mysorepaks are more popular. I prefer the crispy, porous ones though.
The trouble with mysorepak, for many, is always that it tends to either become brick-like or just crumble to pieces. Getting the mysorepak just right is not very difficult though.The important ingredient, the bengalgram dal powder (besan) is usually the culprit. The store bought besan is sometimes adulterated and you may not get the best results with it. I usually buy the bengalgram and get it powdered taking care to see that no other powder gets mixed with it. I know it is a tall order in most places now; perhaps you can buy the branded ones from reputed stores. I am trying to give step by step instructions with the help of photographs at various stages of preparation; sorry, no videos this time. Now on with the job.
Bengal gram flour (besan) : 1 cup
Sugar: 3 cups
Ghee: 3 cups
Lemon juice: 1tsp
Sieve the besan so that there are no lumps. In a large thick bottomed pan, put the sugar and just enough water to dissolve it. When the sugar dissolves, lower the heat and add the lemon juice. The impurities in the sugar will form a layer on top. Carefully remove this layer. Increase the heat. Meanwhile heat the ghee on another stove. Lower the heat before the ghee reaches smoking point. Keep the ghee heated; it is this hot ghee poured into the mysore pak at various stages of its preparation that gives it the brown colour in between and the porous texture.
Keep a tray greased.
The sugar syrup should attain one string consistency (remove a little syrup between your fingers and stretch. A fine thread will form between the fingers).
Now add the besan to the sugar syrup a little by little while stirring constantly.
First timers could have some one else do this for them, when they are doing the stirring part. When all the besan has been added, add a ladle of hot ghee and continue to stir. The whole mass should be boiling with some white bubbles at the sides.
Keep adding the hot ghee ladle by ladle, with constant stirring, until all the ghee has been used. Continue to stir, until the whole mass starts frothing from all sides and leaves the sides of the pan while stirring.
Immediately remove from the stove and pour into the greased tray. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar on top. Allow to cool and cut into desired size after half an hour.
Tasty, porous, mysore pak is ready.
Having some one add the besan reminds me of the distress overseas phone call my handsome and charming younger son made years ago, while, then a novice in cooking, he was trying to prepare Upma. He asked me how one was to add the rava to the boiling water while stirring. I asked him how he did it in India, while learning how to make upma. "Then", he replied, "as I was stirring, patti (ammupatti) would add the rava, or if I added the rava, patti would stir. How can I do both together?" Now that he is a very good cook, things are very different altogether.